Imperial College London

Dr David R Owen MD PhD

Faculty of MedicineDepartment of Brain Sciences

Clinical Senior Lecturer in Clinical Pharmacology



+44 (0)20 3313 6195d.owen Website




G20AICTEM buildingHammersmith Campus






I am a Clinical Pharmacologist funded by an MRC Clinician Scientist Fellowship.

My fellowship is investigating the role of microglia in brain disease. Microglia are immune cells that reside in the brain. They are referred to as the “policemen of the brain” because they detect neuronal damage and become activated in response to almost any brain injury, including in neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s Disease. Microglia can perform supportive, trophic functions, but they can also inappropriately phagocytose synapses and release neurotoxic mediators which drive neuronal damage. The way in which microglia respond to Alzheimer’s Disease is therefore very important. Indeed, converging data from genomics, neuropathology, cell biology and transgenic mouse experiments suggest that the microglial response is a fundamental driver of disease progression. Therefore, if microglial phenotype can be modulated in neurodegenerative disease, this may be a means of slowing disease progression. The focus of my group is contribute to the understanding of how microglial phenotype drives disease, and the development of microglial modulating strategies.


In addition, I am Head of Clinical Studies at the NIHR Imperial Clinical Research Facility, a unit which helps Imperial College researchers turn their laboratory discoveries into medicines of the future. 


I spend the remaining ~20% of my time in clinical medicine seeing patients on the acute medical take, leading Pharmacology teaching (with Chris John) at Imperial Medical School, and contributing to committees on the use of medicines. This includes chairing the North West London Integrated Formulary Committee which covers GP practices responsible for approximately 2.6 million people, and chairing the Subregional IVIG committee covering the stewardship of this life saving but scarce resource across 6 NHS Trusts.


If you are interested in working on any of these projects, or wanting to start a new one in this field, please do get in touch.




Owen D, 2022, Human pharmacokinetics of XBD173 and etifoxine distinguish their potential for pharmacodynamic effects mediated by TSPO, British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, ISSN:0306-5251

Pollock KM, Cheeseman HM, Szubert AJ, et al., 2022, Safety and immunogenicity of a self-amplifying RNA vaccine against COVID-19: COVAC1, a phase I, dose-ranging trial, Eclinicalmedicine, Vol:44, ISSN:2589-5370

Amor S, Nutma E, Owen D, 2021, Imaging immune responses in neuroinflammatory diseases, Clinical and Experimental Immunology, Vol:206, ISSN:0009-9104, Pages:248-250

Smith AM, Davey K, Tsartsalis S, et al., 2021, Diverse human astrocyte and microglial transcriptional responses to Alzheimer's pathology, Acta Neuropathologica, Vol:143, ISSN:0001-6322, Pages:75-91

Nutma E, Gebro E, Marzin MC, et al., 2021, Activated microglia do not increase 18 kDa translocator protein (TSPO) expression in the multiple sclerosis brain, Glia, Vol:69, ISSN:0894-1491, Pages:2447-2458

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